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Use of amphibians to define riparian zones of headwater streams

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Riparian areas are known for their high species richness and their influence on ecological processes. However, riparian zones are difficult to define because of their ambiguous borders. Defining riparian zones by examining habitat use of species that require both terrestrial and aquatic environments is one method that has not been thoroughly examined. We sampled amphibians in Maine, USA, with pitfall traps located at five distances (1, 8, 18, 28, and 33 m) from 15 headwater streams. We captured 1897 amphibians of 10 species over 73 536 trap-nights. We used a repeated-measures analysis of variance to determine if species' capture rates varied among pitfall-trap locations. The highest numbers of three species, spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus), two-lined salamander (Eurycea bislineata), and dusky salamander (Desmognathus fuscus), were captured in trap locations closest to the streams. Total species richness and average species richness were highest in the trap location located closest to the stream. We conclude that the riparian zone along headwater streams, as defined by amphibian species richness and abundance, is relatively narrow (7–9 m).

Le milieu riverain est reconnu pour sa grande richesse spécifique et son influence sur les processus écologiques. Toutefois, la zone riveraine est difficile à définir parce que ses frontières sont ambiguës. Une méthode qui pourrait être intéressante serait de se baser sur l'utilisation de l'habitat par des espèces qui ont besoin à la fois des environnements terrestres et aquatiques. Nous avons échantillonné les amphibiens, au Maine, É.U., avec des pièges-fosses placés à cinq distances (1, 8, 18, 28 et 33 m) de 15 ruisseaux de tête. Nous avons capturé 1 897 amphibiens appartenant à 10 espèces en 73 536 nuits-pièges. Nous avons utilisé l'analyse de variance à mesures répétées pour déterminer si les taux de capture différaient selon la position des pièges-fosses. Trois espèces, soit la salamandre pourpre (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus), la salamandre à deux lignes (Eurycea bislineata) et la salamandre sombre du Nord (Desmognathus fuscus), ont été capturées en plus grands nombres dans les pièges placés près des ruisseaux. La richesse en espèces, que l'on prenne le total ou la moyenne pour une distance donnée, était maximale près du ruisseau. Nous concluons que, sur la base de la richesse et l'abondance des amphibiens, la zone riveraine des ruisseaux de tête est relativement étroite (7–9 m).[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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